5 min read

Cast Your Line: Top 6 Methods to Disseminate Your Survey

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So, you’ve built your first survey. You spent the time workshopping the questions, made sure they’re worded properly to get the information you want without making them a chore to answer and adjusted the look and feel so it’s just a joy to look at. Doesn’t hitting publish feel great?

Now that you’ve built your masterpiece, the next step is to get it in front of people. While there's no right or wrong way, the content of your survey and the target audience will make some more effective than others. Here, we’ll explore the pros and cons to the top 6 methods of survey dissemination.

1. Email

Sending your survey out to an email list is a popular way to reach your audience. So much so that we built a contact centre into IntouchSurvey™ . Sharing your survey this way makes it easy to monitor who you have sent a survey to and who has completed it. Also, since contacts on your mailings lists are usually engaged with your brand to begin with, this audience will often yield a higher response rate. As an added bonus, using a built-in email distribution service gives you the ability to track engagement with your surveys over time down to the individual contact level.

However, this method does require that you’ve previously built out an email list and this previously engaged audience can skew the results. For example, in the case of a Net Promoter Score® type question, contacts who have opted in to receive emails from your brand are more likely to be promoters than detractors.

Additionally, any time you communicate via email you need to consider email deliverability, i.e. whether your emails get to the recipient's inbox, and the average open rates of previous emails – if only 20% of your audience opens your emails, 80% won’t see your survey.

Pros:

  • Easy to monitor
  • Pre-recruited participants

Cons:

  • Requires a pre-existing contact list
  • Potential audience bias
  • Need to consider email deliverability/open rates

2. Website

Surveys can be embedded within web pages or pop-ups on your site to direct web traffic to your survey. This method requires no previously collected contact data and avoids any possible issues related to email deliverability or open rates.

Your web traffic will also include people who are simply curious about your brand rather than just those who are already engaged and enthusiastic about your business thereby reducing the likelihood of audience bias. That said, it’s important to consider that visitors to your website are most likely there for reasons other than to fill out a survey and diverting them from their initial purpose can disrupt the carefully designed flow of your website.

Additionally, pop-ups can be mistaken for advertisements or even blocked altogether by ad-blockers and reduce the number of people who engage with your survey in this way.

Pros:

  • No email addresses required
  • Wider pool of respondents
  • No concerns about email deliverability and open rates

Cons:

  • Can disrupt traffic flow/user experience
  • Can be mistaken for an advertisement

3. Short message service (SMS)

These days, the ubiquity of mobile devices makes them an excellent way to reach people. While smart devices can also receive the emails discussed previously, text messages don’t get sorted into promotional or spam folders the same way emails do and the open rate for text messages is generally higher.

This makes SMS distribution a powerful tool once you’ve built out a contact list. But whereas emails can be opened on a mobile device or desktop, text messages are limited to the small screen. As a result, SMS is ill-suited for long surveys or open- ended questions where you want the contact to write out a response that’s more than a sentence or two. And, much like with emails, SMS does require a pre-built contact list.

Pros:

  • Reach people wherever they are
  • Easier deliverability and higher open rates than email

Cons:

  • Requires a pre-existing contact list
  • Better for short surveys
  • Not ideal for open ended questions

4. QR Codes

Speaking of smart devices, most come with built-in QR code readers or, at the very least, are capable of downloading a free app to scan them. These scannable codes can be printed on a wide variety of mediums such as receipts, business cards and landing pages resulting in them being highly versatile and easily accessible.

But, QR codes are intrinsically tied to smart devices. This means they come with some of the same cons as SMS distribution in that mobile devices are best suited for short surveys without open-ended questions. Some demographics, such as those who did not grow up with smart devices, can also be less inclined to use their phones to scan a QR code - making your target audience a significant factor as to the effectiveness of this distribution method.

Pros:

  • Can be included on a wide variety of physical and digital assets
  • Easily accessible via smart devices

Cons:

  • Only accessible via smart devices
  • Better for short surveys
  • Not ideal for open ended questions

5. Uniform Resource Locator (aka “link”)

Another way to direct people to your survey via print or digital assets is with a Uniform Resource Locator - or URL for short. Often referred to as a “link”, this is the unique address where your survey lives online. URL’s are just as versatile as QR codes in terms of where they can be included, but have the added benefit of not requiring a QR code reader and they can be input into a browser on any device. This means they are not limited to mobile devices and as such can avoid the associated limitations covered above.

This ability to input the URL on any device does lead us to one of the primary cons. The fact that potential respondents need to manually enter the URL themselves makes the barrier slightly higher than simply scanning a QR code and opens up the risk of human error. One typo and the URL won’t work.

Pros:

  • Can be included on a wide variety of physical and digital assets
  • Accessible on any device with a web browser

Cons:

  • Requires respondents to manually type URL into browser

6. Social Media

Platforms like Facebook and Twitter are designed to help you connect with and expand your audience. As such, they can be a great way to share a survey with existing customers as well as get it in front of people who are less engaged with your brand.

Because of the volume of advertisements on social media, promoting a survey doesn’t come off as out of place and many platforms offer ways for you to strategically target a post so it appears in front of your desired audience.

However, promoted and targeted ads come at a cost and organic reach, i.e. the number of people who see your post without ad dollars behind it, is limited based on your followers and how they interact with your content. Add to this that your target demographic for a survey could be split across multiple platforms and social media can end up being an expensive method of survey dissemination.

Pros:

  • Less intrusive
  • Ability to target new contacts

Cons:

  • Organic reach can be limited
  • Promotion incurs additional costs
  • Desired audience may be split across multiple platforms

As you can see, no method of disseminating a survey is without it’s cons. The approach you choose should vary depending on the goal of each survey you create and who you are trying to reach. The good news is there is no reason to limit yourself to just one. It’s like a glorious buffet – just because you want ribs, doesn’t mean you can’t have lasagna too. The pros of one method can offset the cons of another, making for a winning combination.

Now that you know the benefits of various ways to cast your line, tune in next time when we discuss how to Reel Them In: Top 4 Considerations to Drive More Survey Responses!